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Iowa looks to start season with new assistant coach

BY JACK ROSSI | SEPTEMBER 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa men’s tennis team is heading into the 2013-14 season with a few new additions in hopes of rejuvenating a team that was winless in the Big Ten last season.

The lone freshman on the team this year is Nils Hallestrand of Danderyd, Sweden, and he is one of those additions.

“Nils is looking good,” assistant coach Ross Wilson said. “It’s always tough for a freshman to come in, especially from Europe.”

In addition to being a freshman from a different country, Hallestrand also has the task of adjusting to an entirely new playing surface. Sweden uses clay courts to play tennis during the summer.

However, that doesn’t worry the Hawkeyes’ head coach at all.

“He’s the same level of talent I thought he was when I recruited him, so that’s good,” head coach Steve Houghton said. “The team is looking forward to see what Nils can do this year.”

Other additions to renovate the team also included bringing in Wilson as an assistant coach.  Wilson played at Ohio State from 2002-06 and was a two-time NCAA All-American. In 2006, Wilson broke the Buckeyes’ record for overall wins, career double wins, and single season doubles wins, as well as being on the No. 1 ranked doubles team during his time there.

“[Wilson] really has the whole package,” Houghton said. “[He’s a] very, very, good recruiter, tons of connections … he’s a big, big, addition to us.”

After spending some time on the pro circuit, Wilson turned to coaching.

He coached Sharon Fichman who was nationally ranked on the Women’s Tennis Association tour.

Wilson then moved to San Diego, where he helped the team reach a record of 18-10 as they made the NCAA Tournament for a third-straight year, earning himself the Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Assistant Coach of the Year as well as the Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year.

“My goal was always to get back to the Big Ten, and I actually visited Iowa when I was a recruit. Coach Houghton had me on a visit. I enjoyed it and when the opening came abouta nd Coach Houghton called me…It was kind of a no-brainer.” Wilson said. “I think I’ll be able to bring a new voice, you know, a new energy and also hopefully some doubles strategy.”

The Hawkeyes will start their season on Friday in West Lafayette at the Purdue Invitational, and Houghton believes Wilson has brought a lot to the team in the short time he’s been here.

Although the new additions bring high hopes for the team’s future, current and older members are also ready to step up. The team graduated one senior coming into the year, but have five seniors this season from last year’s squad including senior Brian Alden, a transfer student who played at Florida State last year.

One senior player to definitely keep an eye on is Jonas Dierckx. He came all the way from Belgium and is ready to lead the team this season. Last season he finished with a team-best 19 wins in singles and 12 wins in doubles being paired with junior Matt Hagan.

Iowa will face all of its opponents this year away from Iowa City. Next year, in February, they will face off against Illinois State and Western Illinois at home.


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